Saturday, January 7, 2012

Occupy to send a strong message to Martin Ferguson

I had the pleasure of attending my first General Assembly at Occupy Melbourne today, and did so to urge action over revelations that Martin Ferguson has actively promoted spying on lawful green protest groups pursuing the public interest, and is urging harsher penalties for some protest activities.

The General Assembly resolved that a protest with environment groups will be held at 4.30pm next Thursday 12 January at Martin Ferguson's Batman electoral office at 159 High Street Preston (Google Map).

The spying claims, backed by freedom-of-information requests, were published in today's edition of The Age in two excellent articles by Philip Dorling - Spies eye green protesters and The watchdog's kennel in clandestine Croydon

My own thoughts as one of Ferguson's Batman constituents and as a climate campaigner were captured in my earlier post, Protest magnet Ferguson calls on the spies

It was good to see Occupy Melbourne engage so energetically on this issue, mirroring Noam Chomsky's recent view that the movement was "pretty fantastic", but needed to engage on current issues where it could actually make a difference. The revelation of spying against civil society protest groups is certainly one such issue in Australia.

What I hope we will see from next Thursday's protest is a group that stands for so much showing that it can unify and throw the spotlight on particular issues as needed.

Today I proposed that the event be the first in a series of Occupy plugs in ... events - namely, Occupy plugs in Climate. The range of serious issues with which the movement concerns itself could then revolve through the Occupy spotlight in a similar way, with an Occupy plugs in Indigenous Justice surely a looming priority.

As well as unifying and highlighting the disparate environment groups that will be called on to take part, I am also hoping that next Thursday will see Occupy specifically acknowledged and respected as a wonderful and powerful expression of participatory democracy.

Occupy around the world has put itself bodily on the line to demand equity, justice and genuine democracy for the 99 per cent, who are too often exploited by the kind of vested, wealthy corporate interests that are Martin Ferguson's true carbon constituents.

So, if you can, please come along and show your support. Visit the Occupy Melbourne website or Facebook page, follow the movement on Twitter @OccupyMELBOURNE or search for the #OMEL hashtag, where you'll see lots of updates before next Thursday's powerful and necessary message to Martin Ferguson.

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.